The US Army’s forward operating base Qayyarah West, Iraq—known in theater as Q-West—is the front line for approximately 200 civil engineering airmen with the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron. “We’re kind of like a contractor, and we support the Army wherever they need us,” says SrA. Jesse Gent, a structural journeyman. In between their construction jobs, the airmen run truck convoys throughout Iraq.
For 30 days in April and May, a group of expeditionary communications technicians got together at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, with one task: Find a way for the F-35 to transfer data on remote or contested Pacific islands.